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Does this sound like anxious attachment?

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  • Does this sound like anxious attachment?

    Once a week we go to a toddler co-op group where I'm with them most of the time, but I'm at a parent education class for 20 minutes while they play with the other kids and parents. If the kids are upset, they are brought to us, so they aren't just stranded there.

    My oldest (she's almost 2) does fine while I am away but then once I return, she is SOBBING and running to me. I scoop her up and hold/snuggle her, talking to her gently. It takes her a few minutes to calm down. Is she just saying "GOLLY I missed you, Mom!" or is she exhibiting an anxious form of attachment??

  • #2
    I wouln't be too alarmed. There could be alot going on, maybe another kid just snuck up and said BOO! Sure, she was feeling anxious for you so she wants her primary attachment to comfort her. Are you worried this is some clinical problem?


    • #3
      Not so much worried about a clinical diagnosis of anxious attachment. I just remember reading somewhere that kids respond differently to a parent's absence depending upon the type and level of attachment, so I wasn't sure what to make of her response. I'm not super concerned, just being aware and interested in how I can help her feel better. Since she is my first child, and I didn't discover AP until after the 2nd child was born, she did not have a beginning with AP (mostly regarding sleep or babywearing - other things were AP style). So I tend to worry more about her than is maybe necessary. She does have the full benefit of AP now, but I have that deep regret of not parenting her right from the beginning, so that is why I might be a little over-vigilant.


      • #4
        sometimes kids just want Mama...not because anything is wrong with your attachment level, they just want to check in and 'tell' you things. I think watching how kids act over the whole day or week can tell you how they are feeling.
        You seem very attentive....I think she is lucky to have you as her mom!


        • #5
          Are you referring to the famous experiment that psychologists use to describe the attachment betweed kids and their cargivers? It's called a "A Strange Situation" and it classifies attachment to the caregiver as either a) secure, b) anxious ambivalent insecure, c) anxious avoidant insecure or d) disorganized/disoriented.

          The main things that are observed are the exploratory behaviours of the child when the parent is gone from the room and the child's response when the parent returns. The experiment does not give a clinical diagnosis of the children, it rates their attachment for the purpose of research. It is pretty complex procedure that would not be duplicated simply by leaving your child in a childcare situation and observing their behaviour when you return.

          All that being said, the insecure attachments are usually characterized by the child ignoring or acting ambivalently towards the parent when they return. What you describe does not sound like she is ignoring you or behaving abivalently towards you. In face it sounds like she is turning to you for comfort and successfully being comforted.



          • #6
            Thank you, Naomi and Jessica.

            Naomi - Such kind things to say. Thank you. She is a little behind in language (expressive delay, though receptive language is fine) so I think when she's experiencing big feelings she doesn't have any other way to share them with me but to cry. That is probably what is happening.

            Jessica - I was thinking about the strange situation experiment. Your information is very helpful and reassuring - thank you!


            • #7
              Originally posted by momma2two View Post
              Jessica - I was thinking about the strange situation experiment. Your information is very helpful and reassuring - thank you!
              Glad I could be helpful!